With the 132nd running of the Kentucky Derby (Gr.-1) looming just less than three weeks away there are far more questions than answers that fans and bettors alike must take into consideration. The first question that I have for this year’s running is this; what is going to happen in the first half of the race?
One thing fans can definitely bet on is that Sinister Minister will be running on the front end. Prior to Sinister Ministers recent outing, a 12 3/4 length rout in the prestigious Bluegrass Stakes(G.-1) at Keeneland, hall of fame trainer Nick Zito said he had to go to the lead because he doesn’t know of any other way to run. “He doesn’t know how to rate”, said Zito, who is also training Bob and John, a real contender for the Kentucky Derby. During his romp in the Bluegrass he set near suicidal fractions of 45.88 for the half and 1:09.94 or six furlongs.
As fast as Sinister Minister is on the front end, he isn’t the only one. There’s been much talk about how versatile Lawyer Ron is. I highly disagree. The Southwest, ran February 25th at Oaklawn, is all the evidence I need. John McKee, his jockey, rated him as they were running on the backstretch. Lawyer Ron hated how the dirt hit him and his stride looked very unorthodox as he tried to jump over the dirt because it hated how it hit him. As ESPN’s Randy Moss put it while watching the races rerun on a monitor “he’s trying to jump over the dirt hitting him.” Because of that, the fact he can’t stand the dirt hitting him, Lawyer Ron will be very close to the lead as well. If bettors support Lawyer Ron like many experts think they will, then they better hope he doesn’t break poorly and get lost in the middle of a probable 20-horse field. If he does, it’s all over.
Barbaro, the champion of the Holy Bull Stakes(G.-3) and the Florida Derby(G.-1), has never been far from the front as well. Those two races he was 1st or 2nd at every call. So look for him to be on the front end.
Brother Derek will also go to post with lots of support from the bettors. Look for him, Lawyer Ron and Barbaro to take much of the tote action. But Brother Derek, if you remember in the Santa Anita Derby(G.-1), went gate to wire. It was a much smaller field(5) but most of his races he is right there on the front end or very close to it.
Keyed Entry is another interesting prospect. Two months, even a month ago, you would have said Bluegrass Cat is the top prospect this year for trainer Todd Pletcher. Now, you’d know its Keyed Entry. He won the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida and followed that with a second place finish, by a neck, in the Grade III Gotham at Aqueduct. April 8th he was third as the odds-on favorite for the Grade I Wood Memorial. His running style is much like the aforementioned horses. Every race he’s ever been in, he’s been first, second or third at every point of call. So, it’s very safe to say he’ll be running on the front end.
So, with all of these horses who love to gun it to the front end, what is this years Kentucky Derby going to unveil when they have run the first half mile? Is it going to be like last year when Spanish Chestnut rocketed to the lead, only to fade far back and finish 16th in the 20 horse field? Who is going to set themselves up for a memorable stretch run? One thing you can bet, we’ll find out soon!